Cloud Partner Programs
AmyHAnderson 1200008HXG Tags:  saas cloud infrastructure_providers cloud_computing partnerworld 2,314 Visits
This afternoon I was talking with Sumitro Sarkar from TechStrategy Labs, who provides pricing and cost analysis for cloud implementations. Wall Street media were abuzz today about a "massive sell off" of cloud-computing related stocks, spurred by earnings warnings by two fairly visible cloud-related companies, Equinix and Autonomy. Articles on Barrons, Forbes, and other sites expressed alarm that Equinix adjusted their earnings estimate downward based in part on "greater than expected discounting..." Barrons listed several other data center vendors who posted losses on the day.
Yet IBM closed the day up 0.18. Although Sumitro and I both agreed that there is no measureable correlation right now between the industry's perception of cloud computing and IBM's stock price, there is--at least possibly--some insights to be gleaned from these data points.
The cloud computing market is much bigger than data center vendors. Indeed, UK--based Autonomy, also cited in Barrons as issuing a warning that spurred the sell-off, is a software infrastructure provider. And Autonomy's business is broader than the cloud, so a warnings statement from them is not exactly a bellweather of the state of cloud computing. There are many aspects to cloud computing--from the tools that enable applications on the cloud to virtualization technologies to the applications end users access--so it's a bit dangerous to draw dire conclusions from the stock fluctuations of a few companies in the data center and hosting business.
But there is an even finer point to observe in the Equinix statement. There are discounting pressures on the hosting providers. This is a sign of a market moving out of the nascent stage, and that has a distinct pattern in the computing industry: In order to continue winning business, cloud vendors will need to differentiate themselves and provide demonstrated value. This will be true for vendors across the entire cloud ecosystem. A "me too" approach at any layer of the cloud will not suffice, regardless of the discounts provided.
There is plenty of room at the table for vendors of all sizes and value propositions. There is plenty of opportunity for growth for all the current participants in cloud. But any vendor who wants a long future needs to be absolutely clear who they serve and how they deliver value.
AmyHAnderson 1200008HXG Tags:  cloud_computing india paas bpass saas partnerworld cloud 1,563 Visits
This week I'm in Bangalore attending several partner meetings. One of these was with an application provider who has a very strong business in the telco industry. Their primary delivery model is on premise, but the private cloud portion of their business is at 15% of revenue this year and expected to grow to 40% over the next three years. In the course of talking about how the business will transition to the cloud, the CTO shared an interesting observation: cloud computing creates a desire for a menu of applications.
To explain further, in a traditional IT environment, a customer establishes a requirement for a certain capability. They form a team to define objectives and requirements, establish a budget, issue an RFP, and select a provider for the application. The key to this process is the budget. With traditional computing, there are only enough resources for a fixed solution, both from the perspective of capital expenditures and the people required for deployment. But when a businesses decides to acquire their application capabilities as a service, they are moving to an operational expense model, which frees them from having to associate new functionality with the cost of operations. This, in turns, gives the business the flexibility to consider complementary functions that can be rolled into the new service.
So, the CTO tells us, when a prospect engages with his company to evaluate a specific application, if the delivery model is private cloud, the customer invariably asks about additional capabilities and applications. This is not only an opportunity for the partner in question, it's an opportunity for the larger ecosystem.
This CTO has succinctly expressed something that we hear in a variety of ways from all of our partners: cloud computing implicitly increases demand for application capabilities. An obvious case in point is the plethora of applications on Facebook. When users don't have to install and maintain the applications themselves, they are more willing to install not just one or two, but numerous complementary functions. Of course, anyone who runs a data center would probably say Facebook makes it too easy, but that aspect can be controlled through policy and technology.
More importantly, the increased appetite for a menu of capabilities isn't met by merely providing a nifty catalog of applications. Application providers will meet their customer's needs by participating in a well-structured ecosystem of partners. Catalogs are merely an interface, the real benefit of complementary applications comes from an understanding of how applications fit together, as well as where and when a given partnership makes the most sense. And that requires a partner who can coordinate these relationships without unnecessary interference. Fostering an ecosystem in this way is exactly what IBM is doing with the Cloud Specialty.
With the partners in our program, we are helping them grow marketshare by connecting them to each other. The process is fairly manual for now, but look for tools coming later this year that will help automate some aspects of the program. But complete automation is not the goal, we are not trying to build an online matchmaking service for partners. We intend to provide the worldwide, cross industry market perspective that helps partners make sense of the opportunities they see.
Every partner that we're meeting with this week is on the cloud journey and has exciting plans for how cloud is expanding their marketshare and growing revenue. And in every case, IBM has a role to play in bringing our ecosystem to bear in building our mutual success. We look forward to growing our business with our partners.
AmyHAnderson 1200008HXG Tags:  partnerworld cloud partners cast-iron saas isvs paas 4,336 Visits
Ten months ago, we delivered the Cloud Business Model Readiness Assessment for ISVs, a tool that not only helps ISVs determine where they are in their cloud journey, but also shows the most profitable next steps. Co-developed with TechStrategy Labs, this tools focuses on the business model transformation required to fully maximize profits for a cloud solution.
Commonly referred to as the Business Model Self-Assessment, the tool is an online survey available to all IBM Partnerworld Members. Once logged in with a valid Partnerworld userid and password, ISVs answer about 20 multiple choice questions related to the ISV’s SaaS technology, cloud business model, and pricing structures. Once submitted, the results are run through an analytics engine that produces a customized four-page report for the ISV. The report includes an assessment of the ISV’s current SaaS model, as well as recommendations for next steps.
Like any tool, the self-assessment is not a silver bullet that guarantees success in the cloud. The report does not contain a magic formula for generating profits from from nothing. But when used correctly, the report can provide insights that help a business focus on profitable action items.
For example, I recently worked with an ISV in the data warehousing space. Their solution provides insights to retailers and relies on integrating data from multiple sources, both inside and outside a business. It’s easy to recognize why a cloud delivery model is ideal for this type of application, but prioritizing the technology investments required to get there is less obvious.
The ISV completed the self-assessment a few days before our scheduled meeting. We all reviewed the report in advance of the meeting, and we agreed to use the report as a working agenda for our meeting.
The discussion was insightful and productive. Based on their input, the report showed they had not done any virtualization of their solution, but they had completely enabled mutli-tenancy. We honed in on this part of the report, and quickly discovered that they had misunderstood our definition of multi-tenancy. With that question quickly resolved, we were able to turn our attention to their business model.
Although it might seem
that this ISV should first focus on virtualizing their infrastructure, the financial modeling section of the report revealed that they would achieve significant cost savings through a
more systematic approach to their significant data integration issues. IBM’s Websphere
Cast Iron product set is ideal for their requirements, and they are
currently investigating how to best put this offering to work for their
business. Once they have solved the data integration issues, they will then turn their attention to virtualization and multi-tenancy. One of the many golden nuggets in this report was the realization that although virtualization is important, it's lower on this ISV's priority list than data integration.
Importantly, this partner is free to run the self-assessment tool as many times as they desire. As they adopt new cloud technologies, they can play with various cost and pricing scenarios to see how these investments improve their business.
The SaaS Business Model Self-Assessment tool is available to all application providers who have Member level status on Partnerworld. Please feel free to use it, and we’ll be happy to meet with you and talk about the results. And comment here on how the tool is working for you.
AmyHAnderson 1200008HXG Tags:  cloud_computing partnerworld msp saas paas bpaas iaas 1,631 Visits
It’s been two weeks since IBM announced its new program for Managed Service Providers (MSPs). We’ve been working with these types of businesses for years, but with the launch of this program, IBM is acknowledging how MSPs are at the forefront of using cloud computing to reinvent business.
Throughout the industry, the term “MSP” is broad and vague. Its roots trace back to the Application Service Providers of the late nineties. Back then, we had some notion that increased bandwidth could enable small businesses to get out of running their own data centers and simply pay an offsite service to manage their applications. Over time, this notion blossomed into a business model where service providers add value through their expertise in application usage, systems management, and business process.
MSPs, then, do much more than keep the data center running: they provide expertise that businesses of all sizes—not just small businesses—simply cannot maintain on their own.
For example, Doug Mow, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Velocity Technology Solutions, explains that what clients value about Velocity’s managed service is their deep expertise on Infor applications. There are several functions that most businesses only perform once or twice a year, such as processing bonuses or adjusting payroll deductions. For on premise environments, teams often have to relearn how to perform these functions every time they do them. But an MSP like Velocity performs these functions regularly on behalf of many clients, thus increasing efficiencies for everyone involved.
MSPs bring expertise and economies of scale to their customers. In turn, IBM brings affordable, robust technology, worldwide marketing reach, and business transformation support to the MSPs. For more information on how we’re working with MSPs to reinvent business, visit our MSP Virtual Briefing Center.